August 2018

Welcome New Virtual Arkansas Teachers

Position at Virtual AR: DYS Social Studies

Education: BA in History Education and a Master's in Education in School Counseling and Leadership

Nathan Lemley

About Me: My wife and I have been married for almost 19 years. My twins are sophomores at Russellville High School and my youngest son is a 7th grader.

Why did I become a Teacher? I grew up around teachers and coaches(my dad was both) and just knew that this was going to be my career.

Best part about being a teacher? Helping others not just in learning but in life.

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: The same thing I have to tell myself, relax.

Rachel Kirkpatrick

About Me: I moved to Arkansas four years ago to go to college. When I moved, I came to Arkansas alone. My parents are In Washington state, along with my sister. I am here in Bryant with my black lab, Oakley.

Why did I become a Teacher? I became a teacher so I can help the next generation. I want to help student's learn and grow to their best potential by achieving their dreams.

Best part about being a teacher? The best part about being a teacher is developing a connection with students. Student's don't always remember the class, but they always remember their teacher.

Position at Virtual AR: 9th-12th ASL

Education: Associates: ASL Studies | Bachelors: Professional Studies: early childhood education

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: There are going to be times when you fail, but it is how you come back from that failure to accomplish your dreams.

Position at Virtual AR: Biology Instructor

Education: Zoology Degree from Arkansas State University

Justin Howell

About Me: My wife Amanda Howell works in Benton AR at the middle school ALE. We have a son who is going to turn 1 year old on October 3rd. We live in Bryant AR. My Dad is a Science teacher in MO. Both of my grandmothers were elementary school teachers and still living to give me advice daily!

Why did I become a Teacher? I wanted to make a difference in others lives and make this world a better place for my son.

Best part about being a teacher? Knowing you are making a difference in someones life and making the world a better place.

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Read, Read, Read, learn how to study and take notes.

Jessica Carter

About Me: After being away in Texas for 5 years, I am so thankful to be back here in Central Arkansas with family and friends. On the best kind of day, you will find me either with family and friends, buried in a book, or elbow deep in some sort of craft project!

Why did I become a Teacher? Desire to see students succeed not only while in school but after

Best part about being a teacher? Students

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they have been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.

- Muhammad Ali

Position at Virtual AR: English 7 & 8 for Earle

Education: BA English from Arkansas Tech, MA in Christian Education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Position at Virtual AR: CTE: Agriculture Business Management & Financial Literacy Teacher

Education: Bachelors and Masters of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, with an emphasis in Agricultural Communications from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Best part about being a teacher? With my FFA students the best part of being a teacher is making those bonds with them that last a lifetime. My students become my children and it brings me great joy to watch them grow, learn, and succeed at life, not just in the classroom. To see them take the things/skills I have taught them and put them to use in the real world, still makes me more happy than words can explain.

Amy Dawson

About Me: My family and I currently live in Paragould, AR. My husband Van, is an Agronomist for a large farm in NE Arkansas and we farm as well. We do not have livestock, only row crops. Based on the rotation year, we may grow rice, corn, or soybeans. My husband is also a flight instructor and private pilot. We have two children, Allison who is 6 years old and Aaron Paul who is 3. We have two cats and one dog. My family loves the RAZORBACKS, traveling, and being on the lake. In my spare time I love to garden and landscape. My parents live in Glenwood, AR on an Angus Cattle farm. Whether it's crops or livestock, farming in some form or fashion is the way of life for my family.

Why did I become a Teacher? I actually went about becoming a teacher in a more complex way than most. I did not go to college to be a teacher. I was a Large Animal, Pre-Vet major for two years before switching to Agricultural Communications as my major. I went on to receive my Masters in this area as well. I worked as an Extension Agent for the University of Arkansas Extension Service where I advised farmers on how to grow and manage their crops and livestock. Due to my husband' s career we moved to the NE part of Arkansas and I had to change careers. I choose to become an Agriculture teacher because of my love for agriculture and my past experience with FFA. It was an easy transition and one I am very glad I had an opportunity to peruse. So, it was a round-a-bout way that I became a teacher but I feel that I was called to this profession due to my passion to want to make an impact and a positive difference on my students lives. I have taught many different subjects over the past 7 years , but I continue to come back to my Agriculture roots.

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be:

To ALWAYS be kind to others and NEVER burn bridges because you never know when you may need help from those people later on in life. Also, I would tell my students that LIFE REALLY IS SHORT, enjoy the little moments because they are truly what you will remember.

Craig Myers

About Me: My wife, Linda, and I have been married almost 5 years now. We are both teachers. She teaches art at the elementary school in town. We both love to go kayaking.

Why did I become a Teacher? Wanted to be a part of other peoples learning!

Best part about being a teacher? Seeing the "AHA" moment.

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Studying is important. It is a skill that is learned, so if you don't study during K-12 you are only hurting your future self.

Position at Virtual AR: Social Studies Teacher

Education: Anthropology BA and an MAT

Position at Virtual AR: Instructor for Abnormal Psychology/Human Behaviors and Disorders

Education: Currently pursuing a graduate degree for Clinical Mental Health Counseling; B.S. in Psychology with a minor in sociology and criminal justice

Brookes Mays

Why did I become a Teacher? After assisting with 4 of the VA courses, I thought this would be a great path for me!

Best part about being a teacher? Interacting with the students, especially capturing their interests and possibly helping them decide what they want to do in the future as far as career/schooling.

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Do what is best and most interesting to you. Don’t let others determine your path for you, especially if it will not get you where you want to be in the long-run.

About Me: I have a one year old daughter (Lennix Grace- we call her Lenny Lu) and a four year old son (Ledger Dean).

Welcome New Central Office Staff

Jeremy Woodward

About Me: My wife's name is Julie. She is the Special Ed teacher for 7-12 at Hillcrest School District. We have been married for 13 wonderful years. We have 3 wonderful kids, Elijah-15, John-12, and Abigail-10. We live in Strawberry, AR, and love being outdoors.

Why did I become a Tech Coordinator? When I was in college, I worked for the IT department as work study. I completely fell in "love" with working technology, and started learning anything and everything that I could. My goal in life quickly changed to being a Director of Technology who manages and oversees the technology for the present and future of the institution. Virtual Arkansas has given me this opportunity and I feel blessed to be able to walk this upward path along with Virtual Arkansas.

Best part about being a Tech Coordinator? The best part about my job is knowing that I can/do make a difference in so many lives.

Position at Virtual AR: Technology Director

Education: B.A. - Mathematics

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Always be true to yourself, and follow your passions in life.

Position at Virtual AR: Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Education: Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, U of A- Fayetteville; Master in Educational Administration, Tarleton State University

If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be: Forgive yourself, forgive others and always be a friend to everyone. Grace is a gift that never disappoints.

Kirsten Wilson

About Me: Eric and I met in our last year at the University of Arkansas, married the summer after we graduated and have been married for 24 years. We have two incredible children, Emmarie, 15 and Kristopher, 13. We have an ornery 10 year old Bichon Frise named Izzy, a 4 month old French Bulldog, named Cosmo, who acts like an obstinate teenager, a black male cat named Raven and a Costa Rican milksnake named Bosco. I am the oldest of four kids. My parents live in LR. Two of my siblings live in NWA and my other sibling lives in Nashville.

Why did I become an Educator? To work with educators, community and families so that, together, we can provide students the opportunities that public education opened up for me, and help them see the possibilities, instead of the limitations.

Best part about being an Educator? Supporting teachers and hearing the stories about their most challenging students having "aha" moments with their learning, and those students becoming advocates for their learning.

A good book read...

In this section of our blog we are sharing what some of our Virtual Arkansas Educators are reading. Each month will have a book review by one of our own! We hope by sharing our love of reading with you, you may find a book to enjoy as well.


I recently read The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX): Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. It had a profound impact on me as I am a list maker and set way too many goals, but never achieve what I set out to do in an efficient manner. This helped me to see that through the Wildly Important Goal (WIG) and the cadence of accountability I can efficiently achieve more by having less goals. Setting one goal that stretched and challenged me was far more beneficial and attainable than multiple goals. It also taught me how to manage all the things that take my attention away from achieving my goals. What pulled my attention was usually the everyday challenges of life or what the authors call the “whirlwind”, and by managing the "whirlwind" I can still achieve my WIG through the “cadence of accountability.” I have already implemented many of the methods in this book with our Virtual Arkansas Team and in my personal life. I highly recommend this to anyone that has lots of big ideas and dreams, and find it challenging to make progress on those goals!

Person Sharing: Kirsten WilsonVirtual Arkansas Position: Director of Curriculum and Instruction